There are many Philadelphia personal injury lawyers out there, some are very good, some not so much. Some Philadelphia personal injury firms want to put the least amount of effort into your case and don’t want to put their time and money into it; these are called ‘personal injury settlement mills’.
These ‘settlement mills’, many of whom you may recognize from mid-day or late-night TV advertisements, will often churn a personal injury case to settlement well before it should have been settled, often costing the injured a great deal of money they should have recovered.
Here is a comprehensive guide to use when searching for and selecting a personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia to represent you.
TIP #1 – Avoid the Lawyer Who Won’t Explain the Process
What your personal injury lawyer is doing for you should never be a big secret, and if it is, it certainly raises a red flag. As a client, you have a right to stay informed. This means you should be given all the details upfront about attorney fees, average processing time, and possible settlements. This also includes updates along the way.
TIP #2 – Don’t Hire an Attorney if You Can’t Communicate With Them Directly
Communication plays an integral role in the process of a personal injury case; if you can’t communicate with your lawyer directly, you should not hire them. Why? Throughout the process of a personal injury case, you will need to tell the attorney and/or law firm staff about your level of injury, doctor appointments, status, and settlement expectations. Choose a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable and who will communicate with you.
TIP #3 – Only Choose an Attorney Who Bills Injury Cases on a Contingent Fee Agreement
A contingent fee agreement is a system in which your lawyer receives a percentage of your settlement as payment. This means that if you don’t win your case, you owe your lawyer nothing. A contingent fee works as motivation if the client gets nothing from the lawyer, and the law firm is paid nothing for the time and costs they may have invested in the case.
TIP #4 – Will the Lawyer, and Law Firm, Go to Trial? Or Do They Settle the Majority of Cases?
Obviously, you want an attorney who is successful. Look at the personal injury lawyer and the law firm's track record. Do they have a history of securing favorable verdicts and settlements? Is the lawyer, and law firm, willing to file a lawsuit and go to trial if they feel they are not being offered proper value for the personal injury case? Not surprisingly, insurance companies keep records on lawyers and law firms, telling them who will go to court with guns blazing or who will shrink when it comes time to put up or shut up. Select a personal injury lawyer, and law firm, that will go all the way in their attempt to secure you the best outcome for your personal injury case.
TIP #5 – Go With Your Gut When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Don’t hire a lawyer if your gut is sending you warning signals. A “bad feeling” is usually the first sign that you are picking the wrong personal injury lawyer. Your comfort level with your injury lawyer, their staff, and the law firm means everything when pursuing a personal injury claim.
When searching for a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer, keep these five tips in mind. These tips will help you pick the right one and give you a better chance to end up with a successful result once your case is over.
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Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Injury Law Firm
Suffering a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence is no one’s idea of fun. In some cases, you may even be able to pursue compensation. But, before reaching out to the other party, it’s important to speak with a personal injury attorney. Hiring an attorney will help you understand your options and how you should proceed.
If you’ve never had to hire an attorney before, it can seem like a daunting process. However, asking the right questions upfront will lead you to find a qualified individual. Read on to learn 4 questions you should be asking before hiring an injury law firm.
1. What is your experience with personal injury cases and what were the results?
This no-brainer question gives you the most valuable insight about an injury law firm.
Do they have considerable experience handling personal injury cases? Have they been successful in handling these cases?
Past experience shows that a law firm has more than just background knowledge. It means they have acquired the necessary skills and expertise to produce results. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask for references from past clients. If they have a portfolio, even better.
2. What costs would I be responsible for?
Oftentimes, personal injury cases are handled by way of contingency fees. This means that you wouldn’t be responsible for paying a fee unless you win.
Usually, contingency fees are 33% of the settlement. However, you need to be aware of advance case costs in the event you lose. This can be costly, so you should ensure you aren’t responsible even if unsuccessful.
3. Are you balancing several other cases, currently?
It’s likely a personal injury attorney is overseeing several cases at one time. With this in mind, you should determine if this person has enough time for yours.
You can ask several follow-up questions if they answer ‘yes’ but you feel unsure. Figure out how long it’ll take for your lawsuit to be filed. Also, ask how often they will communicate with you or if they’ll be your main point of contact.
4. What would I need to do to make this a successful case?
As a client, you should understand your responsibilities to drive a successful case. With personal injury lawsuits, there may be certain steps you need to take. This can mean visiting your family physician or seeking other medical attention. Also, it can mean more technical responsibility such as submitting forms, for example.
Designating responsibility from the beginning will prevent miscommunication issues later down the road.
Having said that, you should also be aware of the attorney’s actions and the steps they take to resolve your case.
Can I Fire My Personal Injury Lawyer?
A common question we hear is: Can I fire my personal injury lawyer? In a word, yes! You are the boss, it is your injury case, and you can terminate your lawyer if you are unsatisfied with their services. However, your lawyer may be entitled to fees for work that they have done, which is usually outlined within the fee agreement. Even if the working relationship is strained, there is a correct and polite way to fire an attorney.
One Last Olive Branch
You should try one last time to speak to the lawyer and discuss any issues you are having. Remember, you are the boss! Sometimes these things can get resolved by addressing your concerns with the lawyer directly, and I would always encourage clients to try and communicate their troubles first before making any rash decisions. While it can be frustrating, there could have been a genuine reason for their behavior, and they might be willing to make amends. While their treatment of you may have been rude and unprofessional, it is always wise to clearly communicate your issues with their handling of your case.
What to Do When Talking Doesn't Work
If You have offered to reach out clearly and politely and they still refuse to cooperate, remember to always leave a paper trail. You should send the lawyer a letter detailing why you are terminating them, ask them to stop working on your case, and direct them where they should send the contents of your file, whether it be directly to you or another law firm. Acting courteously and professionally should help to smooth the transition process. There is no need to scream and threaten the lawyer with a bar complaint or otherwise – most lawyers value their reputations and will understand that sometimes differences between clients happen.
As a practical matter, the case file is yours. Still, the fired lawyer may assert a fee for work and costs they have expanded on the file – this will usually get worked out by your new lawyer and the fired lawyer. If a lawsuit has been filed in your injury case you may need the permission of the Court to allow you to terminate your lawyer – but even at that point, you still have the absolute right to fire your lawyer.
So the bottom line to the question is, Can I fire my personal injury lawyer? Yes, you can. This is your personal injury case, not the lawyers. The personal injury lawyer and law firm should always treat you the right way, but you indeed wouldn't be reading this blog post if they did.
Looking for a New Personal Injury Lawyer?
Consider KaplunMarx Accident & Injury Lawyers in Philadelphia for your case. We prioritize our clients' and their cases, guiding them through every step of the process. We are an experienced team of Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys.